China on Wednesday said it has "noted" the recent move by Pakistan to accord 'provisional provincial status' to Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). On Sunday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that his government has decided to accord a provisional provincial status to the Gilgit-Baltistan region of PoK.
Reacting to Khan's remarks, Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Anurag Srivastava said in New Delhi that India "firmly rejects" the attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory which is under Islamabad's "illegal and forcible occupation" and asked the neighbouring country to immediately vacate such areas.
Asked for his reaction to Pakistan's decision on Gilgit-Baltistan and India's reaction to it at a media briefing here, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, "we have noted relevant reports". "China's position on the Kashmir issue is consistent and clear. It is an issue left over from history between India and Pakistan. It should be resolved peacefully and properly according to the UN charter, relevant security council resolutions and bilateral agreements," he said.
To a follow-up question referring to China's protest to India's decision to abrogate Article 370 last year and whether Beijing's silence on Pakistan's move on Gilgit-Baltistan ran counter to China's claim on adopting a neutral approach on Kashmir issue, Wang said it was not a valid statement.
"I don't think that's a valid statement. As I said just now, China's position on the Kashmir issue is consistent and clear," he said. He also reiterated that interested countries can join USD 60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Asked to name the countries who had shown interest to join the project, Wang said, "as we have repeatedly said that the CPEC and other projects under the BRI are open and we welcome interested countries to join such cooperation to jointly contribute to regional and global stability and prosperity." India has protested to China over the CPEC project as it is being laid through PoK.